Divorce in Georgia, Part 1
Court clerk can help with family violence as long as both parties live at same residence
Retaining attorney recommended
Most courts in the United States recommend retaining legal counsel for handling a divorce; even if both parties agree the marriage should come to an end; at least the petitioner (or, in Georgia, "plaintiff"--basically,the one who files the lawsuit) should have an attorney in order to ensure the filing is legal and the decree will be enforceable. Of course, a contested divorce virtually guarantees the necessity of each party having an attorney, especially in complex cases with minor children, significant assets, or both.
Counseling can help with emotional pain
Another thing to consider is professional counseling. A divorce can be emotionally traumatic, even when both parties realize the relationship has run its course. Many people have reported feelings approaching those of having a death in the family. Certainly, divorce brings an end to any number of hopes and dreams. A compatible, trained attorney can help with appropriate referrals.
Addressing domestic violence
Experts also advise that if the relationship dynamic includes domestic violence, it should be dealt with immediately. Again, an experienced attorney can be invaluable, providing legal advice, filing protective orders and so on. Georgia has numerous online resources to help with domestic violence, including:
- Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence;
- A.A.R.D.V.A.R.C.K.'s Georgia: Domestic Violence Resources page;
- Georgia Commission on Family Violence;
- WomensLaw.org's Georgia Resources page;
- Georgia Domestic Violence Benchbook.
Clerk in local Superior Court can help with family violence
According to the State Bar of Georgia [Note: emphasis added], "Georgia has a law protecting victims of family violence. The parties do not have to be married in order for a victim to ask the court for relief. However, the parties have to reside in the same household. A victim of family violence can file a petition with the superior court that family violence has occurred in the past and may occur in the future. The court can issue a temporary order granting a variety of remedies, including eviction of the offending party from the residence or providing suitable alternate housing for the victim and children, as well as financial relief.
"The victim does not need an attorney to file a family violence petition. The clerk of the superior court in the victim's residing county may provide forms for the petition or be able to direct a victim to a family violence shelter or social service agency for direction."
Also from the bar association:
If my spouse and I agree on matters pertaining to getting a divorce, do we still need an attorney?
An attorney will ensure that all matters that should be resolved in a divorce are resolved. Acting without an attorney could end up being a costly mistake both to the parties and to their children.
See Part 2 for more information, including residency requirements, where to file, and more.
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